Parlaying a popular Instagram feed (and maybe also a YouTube channel) into a lucrative income is a matter of “branding,” and one of the most popular “brands” of recent years is a young woman named Caroline Calloway. She comes from money. Her parents sent her to an elite boarding school in New Hampshire, and she attended New York University ($69,984 a year, including room and board). In 2013, at age 21, she spent the summer traveling in Europe, meeting good-looking Italian guys, and posting what she hashtagged #adventuregram photos with long storytelling captions. and then in the fall, she went to Cambridge University in England, studying art history and — ZOOM! — she soared to Instagram superstardom.
That’s Stacy McCain, and RTWT — he gives her both barrels. But then come back here, because I have lots of experience with this type of girl. Not because I went to NYU, or Cambridge, or am involved in New York publishing or, God help us, am on Instagram (I’d rather have my fingernails ripped out by the Kempeitai’s most sadistic torturer than spend a second on Instagram). I know this kind of girl well, quite simply, because she’s every single college girl in America. I’m retired now, praise Buddha, but in my career I must’ve had ten thousand Caroline Calloways pass through my classroom. It’s important that we get to know them, because they are, quite literally, our future.
And yeah, before you ask — they’re ALL like that. Why do you think I took early retirement?
Before we begin, a disclaimer: I might sound at times like I’m talking down to you, the Reader — over-explaining the obvious etc. After all, I’m pretty sure that of our 14 readers, at least 13 of you are on the back nine of your lives. Some of you are combat veterans; all of you are fairly successful. Your experience of women is extensive, like your experience of life in general. Heck, some of you are women, though how you can stand such an awful reactionary old fossil as myself is one of life’s enduring mysteries. You probably feel you don’t need any lectures from the likes of me…
… but y’all, they’re DIFFERENT, these college girls, in ways that you can’t really fathom unless you’re around them a lot.
The nearest analogue I can come up with is that old movie Wall Street. We all remember Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko. But Douglas actually didn’t get the bulk of the screen time. Charlie Sheen did. Wall Street was supposed to be an archetypal Corruption of the Innocent. It didn’t work, partly because Sheen was miscast — he just doesn’t do earnest very well, which is also why Platoon was such a stinker — and partly because Douglas absolutely crushed his role. But mostly it was the nature of the characters. Every guy in the audience knows someone like Charlie Sheen’s character (it’s telling that I can’t even remember his name). Crucially, we all think that kind of guy is a weasel.
Even guys who’ve made their pile — even other stockbrokers — feel that Sheen’s a weasel in that movie. Guys admire ball-busting risk-takers. Michael Douglas is an SJW in real life, and he’s been railing against Gordon Gekko for years. So much toxic masculinity! But that’s what men admire about Gekko — we like his style, even if we don’t condone his methods. He wants what he wants, and he goes after it — ruthlessly, all the way, whatever it takes.
Sheen, on the other hand, is just a suck-up. He doesn’t know what he wants, because he doesn’t know himself. He thinks he wants what Gekko has, but he really wants what Gekko is. Gekko rides around in limos and bangs Daryl Hannah because he’s Gordon Gekko — he’s himself, and the limo-riding and Hannah-banging are natural outgrowths of his fundamental nature. Sheen also rides around in limos and bangs Daryl Hannah, but the Hannah-banging is only made possible by the limo-riding. Gekko knows this about Sheen, but Sheen doesn’t know it about himself — which is why Gekko can use Sheen with such brutal efficiency. The audience sees this, even if everyone who actually made the film doesn’t.
Everyone with me? Wall Street works because it’s a Classical tragedy. Sheen’s character is brought low through lack of self-knowledge. He’s a cut-rate Reagan-era Oedipus.
Now: Have you ever wondered why, in this age of remakes and reboots and hell-for-leather 80s nostalgia, they’ve never remade Wall Street? You’d think it’d be first on Hollywood’s list, no? Gordon Gekko isn’t all Donald Trump, but there’s a very large, very obvious resemblance, so much so that when they made a direct-to-video sequel back in 2010, they actually tried to cast Trump in it. Every over-the-hill Trump-hating actor in Hollywood — which, in 2019, means anyone over 25 who occasionally identifies as male — would be chomping at the bit to reprise Gordon Gekko…
And therein lies the rub. It’s 2019. Everything has to be gender-swapped, at minimum, to satisfy the SJWs. Wall Street simply doesn’t work with a female protagonist. Not because some girl can’t be found to say Michael Douglas’s lines, but because girls simply aren’t interested in the Charlie Sheen role. It doesn’t make sense to them, on a fundamental level. Charlie Sheen’s character thinks he wants status, which he will achieve by accumulating stuff. What he really wants is a center — an identity — and neither status nor stuff will ever give it to him. Basic College girls can’t grasp that, because umpteen years of very expensive “education” have beaten even the possibility of understanding it out of xhyzem.
Caroline Calloway (remember her? from up top?) is Charlie Sheen’s Character for Basic College Girls. I’ve sent you to Stacy McCain; now I’m going to send you to Vox (the SJW snakepit, not Vox Day). Yeah, I know, but even stopped clocks are right twice a day, and this one’s a wowzer.
In case you can’t be bothered to click, the upshot is: Caroline Calloway is a cute, rich girl who wasn’t satisfied with being cute and rich. She wanted to be famous, too, and so she set about constructing an online identity for herself.
[Calloway] took a series of meetings with literary professionals who informed her that no one would buy a memoir from a girl with no claim to fame and no fan base. And so Caroline made one online, taking out ads designed to look like posts to promote her account and buying tens of thousands of followers.
At the time, she was something like 23 years old, fresh out of NYU and attending grad school (art history, natch) in Cambridge. Twenty three years old, with no accomplishments to her name other than “going to college” and “using Twitter,” and she thinks that she’s got the goods to publish a memoir. But that’s not the truly crazy part. The truly crazy part is: She got into the conference room with publishing people. Several times. Not “a meeting” — something lots of truly accomplished people would kill for — but a series of meetings.
I never thought I’d say this, but I have real sympathy for those Manhattan publishing types. I’ve sat through many a series of meetings with girls like this, where you rack your brain and torture the English language to find new ways of saying “No, you don’t get full credit because you’ve been trying sooo harrrrrrd! In fact, you don’t get any credit, because you haven’t actually done anything but come into my office hours and whine. In fact, if you’d spent the twelve hours you’ve spent bugging me actually working on the paper, it’d be done by now.”
Undeterred, our Basic College Girl turned to the Internet. Lacking the talent to actually be a writer herself, she did what any BCG would do: Hired a ghostwriter, in this case another BCG with self-esteem issues who agreed to front “Caroline’s” Instagram-only “writing” in return for being allowed to bask in her “friend’s” reflected glory. The friend, Natalie Beach, is a piece of BCG work in her own right:
“I believed Caroline and I were busting open the form of nonfiction,” she writes. “Instagram is memoir in real time. It’s memoir without the act of remembering. It’s collapsing the distance between writer and reader and critic, which is why it’s true feminist storytelling, I’d argue to Caroline, trying to convince her that a white girl learning to believe in herself could be the height of radicalism (convenient, as I too was a white girl learning to believe in herself).”
What’s that meme that goes around the Internet every time some intrepid Millennial takes to the pages of a news magazine? Ah yes, “Millennial Discovers.” In this case, it’s “Millennial discovers the postcard.” Here’s a “memoir in real time” for you:
And the “busting open the form of nonfiction” version:
Which means that by the transitive property of equality, “smelling so funky that a flight attendant is compelled to say something to you” is “true feminist storytelling,” but out of basic human decency let’s avert our eyes.
The takeaway from all this is: “Self-knowledge” is a meaningless concept for the Basic College Girl, because there is no “self” to know. It’s all just drama. I’m sure you’re fairly nauseated by now, so I’ll just leave two other facts for you to peruse after a drink or six:
First, the sheer amount of money involved. Calloway graduated from NYU — $70K per year all in — and went to grad school at Cambridge, which I hear costs a few shekels. And then there’s the book deal: She lied about the publisher’s advance for her (never completed) “memoir,” but the numbers are still shocking: only $375,000, of which she actually received $100,000. One hundred grand. For a “memoir” by a nobody barely over the legal drinking age.
Now, publishers aren’t stupid. They have a pretty good idea of what sells, and have a million ways to make things sell. If they thought this goof was worth dropping more than a quarter-mil on, they were probably right. But that’s not the worst, which is: Even after all this, Homegirl was still able to get people to pony up $165 a shot to attend her four-hour “creativity” seminar… at which she herself would only appear for three hours, except that she didn’t, because she did no legwork and had to cancel almost everything, except for the one time she had a roomful of dorky girls sitting around on the floor eating lettuce. For $165 apiece.
The second, even more depressing fact: Not only is Caroline Calloway herself an industry, but she’s got another large, parasitic industry devoted to her. I quote from Vox:
It’s as though, for the past nine months, all of New York media has been unable to look away from the sheer spectacle of Caroline Calloway, transfixed half in loathing and half in admiration. And it’s been unable to make up its collective mind about a single, fundamental question: Is Caroline Calloway a well-meaning but messed-up young person who just wanted to support herself through social media and got in way over her head? Or is she a malicious scammer who willfully exploited her fans’ good faith for some easy cash?
As incredible as this is, chicks care about this bullshit. “Educated” women, with fancy degrees from big-league schools, writing for posh media outlets in the cultural capital of the world. The rights and wrongs of it don’t matter, because the answer is: “Who cares?” Whether she’s a lunatic scammer, or merely a lunatic, doesn’t matter at all. She’s toxic, and any sane person would change zip codes to avoid her.
And yet, she’s “inescapable” on social media, because she’s a Basic College Girl, and for Basic College Girls — i.e. the persyns of gendertude who will be running our country in less than a decade — social media simply IS the real world. They’re drama addicts, and Basic College Girls like Caroline Calloway make a very nice living supplying them with chick crack.